My story about stress eating
I was a stress eater and I would just mindlessly eat all day.
I didn’t feel good unless I was eating something. It didn’t help that in the office that I worked at we had what we called community property. Everyone would contribute to snacks and things and it would sit on this back counter and anyone can take from it or add to it.
There would be all sorts of yummy snacks. All of my favorite childhood snacks, like Star Crunches and Zebra Cakes.
You could also find chips and candy and everything else except fruit and vegetables. All of the delicious tasting junk foods. I just kept eating them anyways and it got really bad.
To the point where I actually could feel it in my face and my clothes were too tight. There were a few pants that couldn’t even zip up anymore. It was just really, really uncomfortable for me.
How stress affects the body
Our brains send cues to our body when we’re stressed. It’s all a part of that primitive fight or flight response that we have that helps us when we perceive threats in our environment.
Fight or flight is really helpful especially when we were hunters and we had lions chasing us. But when we’re in a corporate job or we’re working from home or a stay at home mom and we’re feeling stressed, this fight or flight doesn’t really help us that much.
When we’re stressed that our bodies are starting to send out Cortisol. This is a hormone that is released when we’re stressed out.
Cortisol helps tap into the glucose that we need as well as regulate our blood sugar and blood pressure.
But when there is excess cortisol due to prolonged stress, things backfire. You start to crave these sugary, salty and fatty foods.
Eating a bunch of sugary foods doesn’t help make your kids stop crying or help with the deadline that is quickly approaching when you’re stressed.
Because your brain is thinking that it needs to fight whatever threat it is, you begin craving all of these things to fuel your body.
And that’s essentially what happened to me. I was super stressed out at work.
I was just like pretty much feeling this anxiety and my body was just was telling we gotta get some more food because we gotta go, we gotta go. And so I would just eat all the time.
In addition to when you’re stressed out and craving all of these sugary foods, your metabolism is slowing down.
So it’s really difficult when you’re stressed eating to maintain your weight or even lose weight because you have these two things going on.
You’re eating a lot of sugary salty, fatty foods in your metabolism is slowing down.
So it’s just a perfect setup for you to gain weight.
Also, when you’re stressed your sleep can be affected. You can typically get less sleep or less quality sleep that you need.
And then you start to feel this chronic fatigue. In addition, there’s another hormone, ghrelin, that rises when there is chronic fatigue and less sleep. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone. This can cause you to feel hungry and therefore make you want to eat more, especially when you’re tired.
This all leads to excess weight like I mentioned. Which increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, all of the things that you don’t need or want in your life.
How to better control your stress
I got super duper stressed out and I was just eating terribly and gained probably about 15 pounds in a short period of time.
Luckily my cousin’s wedding was coming up. This was a perfect opportunity to get away.
The wedding was in Jamaica and I got to go away for four days without my husband or my kids and just relax. I did not care about much or do anything that stressed me out.
I just was relaxing and all of the stress just melted away during that time. I realized that I was stressed beyond belief and that my eating was just out of control.
Once I wasn’t excessivelu stressed anymore, I didn’t want to eat all the time. I was at an all inclusive hotel and I didn’t want to eat. It was crazy to me. I was excited to go to the hotel and just eat like crazy, but I didn’t even want to eat.
Then I came home from the trip, my stress levels were down. I wasn’t eating crazy anymore. And then within a month or two I had lost all the weight and I start feeling like myself again.
Now I understand not everyone can afford to go on a trip to Jamaica for four days without your husband and your kids. So let’s find other ways of kind of reducing stress.
Now in episode 19 of the Real Happy Mom podcast, I talked to Esther and she shared several ways to have a healthy life and be more energetic.
She talked about the five pillars health. Which is mind, body, spirit, diet and environment.
Then she talked a length about how to balance these 5 pillars and how stress can through one of the pillars off.
One simple tip that Esther gave was to beathe. I know you’ve heard it many times before. “Oh, you need to breathe”
I know I was told that during the time period when I was super stressed! And would usually yell back, “I am breathing!”
It’s not that you need to breathe. You have to breathe to stay alive. But, you need to be more in control of your breathing. Take slower and deeper breaths when the stress levels rise.
Esther shares how to do proper breathing and advises to pay attention to little babies and how they breathe. That is the way that you’re supposed to breathe.
If you really analyze how little babies breathe, they breathe with their bellies. You’ll also notice that their belly’s just go in and out. Their little guts just hanging out and they don’t care.
That’s how you’re supposed to breathe. Now, if you’re watching an adult breathe, and especially in adult that is stressed or have a lot of anxiety, you will see something different.
You’ll notice that they breathe and their shoulders are going up and down. Now that’s not the way that you want to breathe.
So mimic the way that babies breathe. Take deep breaths and make that belly expand in and out.
Keep healthy snacks available
This is a big one for me because when I’m stressed, I just want to eat, eat, eat.
So if I would’ve had a bunch of apples or some nuts, that probably would’ve been better than my Zebra Cakes and Star Crunches.
So have some healthy snacks around so that if you do get stressed, you won’t indulge in a lot of high calorie foods that are not good for you.
Know what your triggers are and be prepared for them
So I figured out what my triggers were. So one of the big ones for me was when a certain individual came to the office. Whenever this person came to the office, I immediately got stress.
So what I did to help with this is to make sure it’s someone notifies me when that person was coming to the office so that I can mentally prepare for this person and I could be a lot more calm and less stressed.
Exercise is great for a lot of different reasons, but it’s especially helpful for stress.
It helps to release Endorpins. Endorphins help reduce the sense of pain and trigger a positive feeling.
So definitely find ways to incorporate exercise, even if it’s just for 10 or 20 minutes a day.
Get a enough sleep
This is a big one. Make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep.
In episode 19 Esther gave some examples of how your environment could be off balance.
For instance, make sure that when you’re sleeping that the temperature is right, that it’s dark enough.
You don’t have a lot of light going on that’s going to stimulate you to stay awake or not get the best sleep.
You want to make sure that the room is comfortable for you.
Esther also suggested to watch what you’re eating before you go to sleep. So a lot of these things play a role in the environment and directly affect your sleep.
Take control of your thoughts
This one may feel challenging, but you do have control over what you’re thinking. If I started talking about cupcakes, your mind is immediately going to start thinking about cup cakes.
So once negative thought are come into your mind, just immediately shut them down or start thinking about something that is positive.
I highly suggest positive affirmations. If you have something positive to counteract that negative it helps during stressful moments.
Don’t let those negative thoughts come into your mind and then make stress and anxiety just rise up inside of you.
So keep your thoughts under control and tell those crazy thoughts to shut up if you need to.